Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bo Knows Hockey

One of the difficulties Penn State faces in building an elite program is in recruiting. While Guy Gadowsky and company are trying to fill out an NCAA roster, most good programs with NCAA talent already in the fold are recruiting several years down the road. Every other Big Ten club, for example, has at least one player in their 2014 class already, with Michigan State having three. However, according to the website of the BCHL's Langley Rivermen, via Chris Heisenberg, PSU has joined the club as well, thanks to 16-year-old defenseman Bo Pellah becoming Penn State's first 2014 commit.

Bo Pellah

Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
5'11", 150 pounds
New Westminster, BC
DOB 5/25/1995

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM

2010-11  Vancouver NW Giants    BCMML  39    3   17   20   59
2011-12  Langley Rivermen       BCHL   32    0   15   15   31

Despite his slender build, the left-handed shot has had a fantastic rookie season in the BCHL playing against people sometimes four years his senior. The league's media voted him best 16-year-old in the Coastal Conference (with 88 percent of the vote) at the season's halfway point, and he's leading Rivermen defensemen in scoring.

Last year, Pellah wrapped up a great midget run with the Vancouver NW Giants (the same organization that produced 2012 signee Curtis Loik) in the Telus Cup, Canada's national midget championships. At the event Pellah registered three assists in seven games, although the Giants didn't place.

Count the WHL's Spokane Chiefs among those who knew about Pellah before that, as they selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. Said Spokane Director of Player Personnel Chris Moulton at the time:
"Bo is a smooth skating, smart defenseman who keeps his game simple and will make a lot of plays."
He's also been described by observers as playing a "steady game" and "composed with the puck." Sounds very Juha-esque. Such knowledge may have come from the 2010 Western Canada Bantam Championships, where Pellah helped his Burnaby Winter Club Bruins squad to a third-place finish with a goal and three assists in five games.

Incidentally, Edmonton Oilers standout rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also played for both the BWC and the NW Giants. Here's hoping Pellah elects to skip the whole "play in the WHL" part.


  1. I've never understood why these kids feel like they have to commit so early. No other sport seems to have this phenomenon. Any data on what percentage of these early commits fall through?

    Football used to have a gentleman's agreement that you weren't supposed to try to poach another teams commits. That died a few years ago. But college hockey still seems to have some class. I don't know if such an understanding still holds sway in hockey. I know junior coaches don't mind stealing college players, but I don't know how college coaches respect each other. I certainly don't know of any poaching incidents and Jerry York and Jack Parker still seem to like each other, so maybe there's hope.

  2. I can't claim to be a long-time observer of NCAA hockey recruiting (my interest only followed PSU's entry), but it does seem as if there's more of a respect factor in hockey as opposed to football. PSU has a couple of signees who committed elsewhere, but Juha only left Clarkson because of a coaching change - which mirrors almost every school-to-school defection I've seen involving guys yet to begin classes. Zach Hyman from Princeton to Michigan when Gadowsky left is another notable example. Skoff actually signed with OSU last year, but had issues with the coaching staff (according to rumor, over when he would come to campus) and decommitted over the summer, a couple months before committing to PSU. I don't know that we were actively on him when he was still Columbus-bound. If Jackie Pahker (I can't say that name without a Boston accent) and Jerry York can get along, and they do, I imagine that's the case in most places.

    As far as the early commits, I don't have anything on the number actually make it in...while Lane Kiffin would disagree with your saying it only happens in hockey, hockey is a little unique in the small number of schools playing the sport at the DI level. IMO, it's because of this that the schools hold a lot of leverage as far as being able to stash people in junior until it's most convenient for them in terms of scholarships or the depth chart (although it apparently backfired with OSU and Skoff) - or as in this case, players feeling like they have to jump on an offer ahead of the curve. The DI scholarships to DI-level talent (that wants to play DI vs. CHL) ratio is probably lower than just about any other sport.

  3. Coaching changes that leave to commitment changes are normal. You can't expect a kid to stay with a place if he's not comfortable with the coach. But there's not point in a player stating a commitment if all the other coaches are going to keep calling him right up until LOI day.

    The ratio of D1 scholarships to talent is also very low in men's soccer (which I follow) when you consider that there a millions of reasonably good overseas players who'd love a free US education and there aren't very many men's D1 programs (which is why most of the games are close), but I see your other point. No other sport has a well developed junior system like hockey where players can wait until their opportunity opens up in college.

    Hockey and baseball are the most rational college sports when it comes to recruiting. Players don't have to play in college to play in the pros and they don't come to the four-year school until they're ready.

    The only changes I'd really like to see are allowing CHL players who've never played in the NHL and never been paid more than the small stipend to remain NCAA-eligible.

    There should also be a specific window - March-June perhaps - where pro teams are allowed to sign college players who still have eligibility. It's fine if a kid wants to leave school early to sign, but it sucks for the college team if that kid leaves mid season or right before the season. It leaves the coach in a bind.

    Parker and York are at least gracious to each other and the rivalry is actually fairly civilized, albeit fierce. The schools are so close together that most kids at each have friends at the other.